Studio Visit: Asandra

Asandra is a multi-media artist residing in California. Her work can be seen in PLEAT's September 2016 exhibition as well as 

Please describe your work and the internal and external factors that guide your formal and conceptual choices? 
The paintings in this exhibit were created in the past six months, and are inspired by the Southern California landscape. Although my work is primarily abstract, it reflects the exploration of topography, light, and color variations found in nature.  Using mixed media on wood panel, I have invented a method of making large-scale stamps, layering my work to imply dimension and spatial configurations. The process mimics traditional printmaking disciplines (a media I also work in) blended with painting techniques. I usually work in series, as demonstrated by the images in this exhibit. This enables me to explore a visual concept, repeating basic forms in a variety of ways.

Five years ago I moved from the East Coast (New York/Miami) and relocated to California. Lifestyle and climate differences aside, the biggest variances are the terrain and diffused, golden light. The brightness of color found in the work is a reflection of my interior response to this natural beauty. It is emotion expressed through color, shape, and texture. I never plan ahead, or make studies. Each painting is accomplished through an intuitive progression that begins with laying down a background color made up of many thin layers of paint. This is applied using non-traditional tools such as sponges and squeegees. I then layer the shapes on top, adding and deleting as the image impels me.

There is an inherent freedom when one works without fixed idea or formal methodology. I allow the image to guide me, turning the wood panel around as I work. The final direction of the piece is usually determined at the very end. Even the titles come to me intuitively. One can compare it to creating from almost a dream state. It is an inner landscape; the place where we instinctually feel our deepest connections in life. 

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
To describe my creative influences, it would be best to say it is always that ‘stopped me in my tracks’ moment. Herewith are the most significant examples: 
My first artist crush, so to speak, is Amedeo Modigliani. In hindsight I understand that it was his ability to portray the human form in a semi-abstract manner. The simplifying of his subjects through line, form, and color were a forerunner to pure abstraction. 
I refer to Henri Matisse as my “Art-God”. On my frequent visits to MOMA in New York, I would stand in front of his painting, The Piano Lesson, which was on permanent display at that time, for long periods of observation. Here was a combination of simplified form coupled with a masterful use of color and composition. 

When I first spotted Elizabeth Murray’s great painting, Painter’s Progress at MOMA in New York, I gasped. Not only was she freely using my favorite color, magenta, she had also broken the image up into a series of separate canvases that formed the shape of a painter’s palette. It was bold and innovative. I became an immediate fan of her work and followed her “painter’s progress” until she passed away right after having a retrospective at MOMA. 
Another great influence is Sonia Delaunay, who not only painted but also successfully used her colorful imagery in fashion and design. She was ahead of her time and only recently was honored with retrospectives in Paris and London that acknowledge her artistic contribution. As Sonia Delaunay, eloquently says, “Abstract art is only important if it is the endless rhythm where the very ancient and the distant future meet.” This best describes what abstraction is for me; a delving into the timeless using shape, color, symbol, and form that evokes an archetypal language we all inherently speak.